It’s Hurricane Season. Do You Need Hurricane Insurance?
Technically, there’s no such thing as “hurricane insurance,” but if you live in a hurricane prone area, it’s a good idea to get a better understanding of your homeowner’s insurance coverage. Depending on where you live, you may need to supplement your homeowner’s policies to protect against hurricane damage.
The two biggest hurricane risks are flooding, including flooding due to storm surge, and windstorm damage. Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover flooding and list this exclusion right on the cover page of the policy. Homeowners can buy flood insurance separately through the National Flood Insurance Program. Many major insurers provide the flood insurance through an arrangement with this program, so you should contact your homeowner’s insurance agent for more information and a quote.
Depending on where you live, you might need to supplement your homeowner’s insurance with windstorm insurance as well. While the standard home policy covers homes from damage caused by heavy winds, if the winds are caused by a hurricane, you may have to deal with paying a hefty hurricane deductible. Instead of charging a flat rate (such as $1,000) deductible, your homeowner’s policy may charge 2%, 5%, or 10% of the value of your home. If your home is insured for $350,000 and you have a 5% hurricane deductible, $17,500 will be deducted if you file a claim.
Here is a homeowner’s insurance checklist:
- Check your homeowner’s policy limit to make sure the coverage is enough to rebuild. Rebuilding costs are not the same thing as your real estate appraisal.
- Check the hurricane/windstorm deductible which you will find stated on the Declarations (front) page of your homeowners policy.
- Understand what your policy covers and what it doesn’t. Chances are you will find an exclusion for flooding. Contact your homeowner’s insurance agent to get help understanding what isn’t covered.
- Determine the value of your possessions with a home inventory. Take photos or videos of each room in your house. Keep track of what you paid for expensive items like appliances, electronics, art, jewelry and antiques.
- Make sure your policy provides enough coverage for additional living expenses. Additional living expenses cover the extra costs incurred if you need to live elsewhere because your home is uninhabitable.
Checking your insurance coverage is just a part in preparing for hurricane season. Make sure you have an emergency safety plan. Beyond having plenty of batteries and drinking water, and sufficient prescription medications, learn ahead of time your locality’s plan for emergency alerts, and where emergency shelters are located, in case there’s ever a need for mandatory evacuations.